Category archives: Prayer

A Prayer for My Friends

Hi, my friends. I was thinking about you today. And I was thinking about how I want this space to be a shepherding place. A place where you can come and have your heart tended to. I figure the world has knocked you around a bit. I know it has me. And so I just wanted to nourish you the way Jesus (and my community of friends) have nourished me. So, I'm praying this prayer for you today. Just rest and let me pray this over you, okay? And if there's ever anything you'd want me to write about, or a place in your heart where you feel stuck and need tending to, let me know and I'll ask God for some words for you to put here. You can always email me here: surprisedbyhope@yahoo.com A Prayer at the Beginning of the Week (For My Friends) God, Maker of afternoon light, Thank You for [...]

How to Cast Your Cares on Jesus

If you’re alive, then you have some things you’re carrying around. Some things that crush in on your heart, that cause you some angst or maybe a great deal of pain, even. Probably things you can’t control, or else you would, and you’re not quite sure what to do with them. In fact, you might be so busy that you don’t even know all the things that are there. You just walk around with this gnawing sense that something is there, always there, and it’s crowding out any semblance of joy you once had and infringing on your ability to relax, ever, and take deep breaths and enjoy your life. Or perhaps you do know exactly what the thing is that’s bugging you, keeping you awake at night. Maybe it’s that one strained relationship that causes your heart to be sore every time you think of it a[...]

When You Want To Change Things. Help Things. Heal Things.

I passed this church sign the other day. It said, "Prayer is the next best thing to being there." And I get what they mean...mostly. But, it seemed more like a sure-tell sign of how the Church actually views prayer--as always the "next best thing." Like, "Well, I can't change this, so I guess I'll pray." Or, "I can't help that person, so since there's nothing else, I'll just have to resort to praying. Maybe, maybe that'll be good for something." And I wonder where we get this mentality, because Jesus sure didn't hand it down to us. Jesus portrayed for us a life utterly dependent upon God in prayer. Prayer wasn't something He did as a last resort, or even as the next best thing. Instead, He showed us that prayer is the way we actually live our life. I wonder if this is why[...]

Reflections on Loss and Fear and Pain

Here lately, I’m sad because my friend’s son died. They had to bury him today. Last night was the visitation and a part of me didn’t want to go. Because how do you look your friends in the eyes, who just lost their son and have anything at all to say? How do you know what to do with their bleeding-out heart? When I was talking to God about this, He reminded me of the elephants. When an elephant dies, all the other elephants huddle up close together and sort of sway. They just stay there for a while and though it’s hard for us humans to know what to do with unfathomable loss, we can learn a bit from those big gentle creatures. We don’t have to say profound things. Or any deeply spiritual things. We can just say, "I love you." And "I'm sorry."  We can just show up and be with the pers[...]

When You Wonder What God's Will is for Your Life

I talked to a few different friends this weekend. Each of them were coming up on major life decisions. And all three of them happened to be believers, meaning, they each had a relationship with God and some kind of notion that God cares about them individually and is somewhat involved in the details of their lives. But they all three carried that same angst in their voice. I recognized that angst because I've had it, too. You know, when you've done your part--you've prayed and you've sought and you've gone knocking on God's door and then you're just standing there waiting and wondering and you seriously wish God would just spell things out to you in the sky. That would sure be nice of Him. For some reason, He doesn't do that. Now, there are a few times, perhaps, for some peop[...]

What the Summer Days are Teaching Me

Today, as the kids played in the warm sunshine out back in the yard, I remembered how much I love summer. And then I recalled all my growing up years under an Arkansas summer sun. There were popsicle days and creek exploring afternoons. There was honey suckle dripping on the tip of our tongues and strawberry nibbling.  I vividly remember the dandelion blowing, dirt digging, frog catching moments and the times when the afternoon storms would blow in and we’d dance around the yard in the rain and “take a shower” in the waterfall that flowed from the eaves. I used to begrudge my momma for having us play outside so much in the hot sun. We’d sit in the shade and make tents and forts from old sheets and me and my little brother were sure we were languishing out there in the heat. But, [...]

When You're Having a Bad Day (And You Want to Have a Good One)

Sometimes you might wake up to a bad day. Well, it might be a good day outside. There might be light everywhere and flowers bloomin' and birds singin', but there on your insides, everything feels overwhelming. And it might not be your fault entirely. It might have even started the night before when things didn't go as you had hoped or planned. And so you went to bed not quite at peace with God and the world and you woke up with some internal struggles right from the get-go. Yep, the sunlight could be streaming in that window and you might feel like a train wreck before the cereal is even poured. The world does its own thing, and you can't change what's going on around you, but there are some things that you can do to help your insides. To get your day back on track. For on[...]

Why God Doesn't Mind Your Messy Prayers

The other day I found one of my old journals in a box in the garage. So, I took it upstairs and sat on the floor while my kids played and I read through it.  I had written in that journal while I was in college. A time when I thought I was gonna marry a man who I never actually ended up marrying. And when I was scared of Y2K. (Yep, remember that?) And when the cafeteria playing rock music at lunch pretty much wrecked my day. (Yeah, I know. I was a little up tight.) It was interesting and a little entertaining to read the thoughts I used to think and the fears I used to have. In some ways, I was encouraged. Because I could see how I'd overcome certain mindsets that were damaging to me and others. In another way, I was annoyed with myself, because it didn't seem like I'd made all t[...]

God Still Speaks

There’s this old, old story about a bush that once caught on fire, and burned, a crimson blaze but it didn’t burn up. (Exodus 3) And as the flames crackled and sparked, that bush caught someone’s attention. And so this curious shepherd, who was just minding his own business, taking care of his sheep out in the rocky desert, went over to check out the amazing sight. And when he came close, he heard a voice. God Himself was calling that raggedy old shepherd, right out of that blazing bush! Moses! Moses! God hollered out. And a baffled Moses replied, “Yes? I’m right here!” And then the Maker of that bush, who chose to show up like a blazing fire just kept on talking, “Don’t get too close. Take your shoes off. You’re standing on holy ground.” I have this burning bush and c[...]

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